Curtain Raiser

Never Normalize Racism, Colltalers

The firing of Steve Bannon from his White House job was arguably the only upside to the Charlottesville, VA, despicable white supremacist rally of a year ago. A small consolation indeed, as, one, he’d already done enough, and two, racism in America grew exponentially since.
By being held again in DC, yesterday, the hate event where Heather Heyer, a white civil rights activist, was killed by a Nazi sympathizer, is now also indelible from the Trump presidency’s legacy, and for once again normalizing racial extremism in the U.S. We’re all worst off for it.
It consolidates and aggravates some grim figures about the black experience in this country, and it’s helping to institutionalize racial hatred relations in ways that wouldn’t be possible, or acceptable, even during the worst moments of the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
In little over a year, the Trump administration embracing of the white loss of privilege cause, whose anger still fuels his own rallies, has led to a dramatic rise of racial confrontation and violence. From shameful acts of terrorism perpetrated by seemingly reasonable Americans, a string of ‘calling-the-cops-on-people-being-black,’ to incidents of downright raw prejudice against every person of color, we’re living in dark times.
The president, however, not being capable of starting anything on his own, merely exacerbates this nation’s character flaws, and feeds off from the widespread intolerance his self-entitled attitude sows around. What’s a familiar, and utterly disturbing, sight to blacks, Latinos, and Holocaust survivors, all well acquainted with the harbingers of terrible things to come, remains all but ignored by most Americans, though.
Black people are three times more likely to be killed by police, according to Mapping Police Violence Website. And at least as many to be incarcerated for minor offenses, despite being less than 13% percent of the population. But the majority of non-supremacist whites don’t really think that’s a real problem, even if 90% of those killings won’t lead to indictment, suspension or firing of police officers. That’s a big problem.
The origins of the superiority complex shared by bigots, Nazis, proponents of violent ‘solutions,’ and assorted garden variety fascists, dates, of course, from slavery. There prior to the

independence, it led two of the brightest architects of the American ideal to be at odds over the issue.
John Adams never owned slaves and even when opposing legislation to a total ban, expressed moral outrage about it. Being white, though, he couldn’t help it but assigning a lesser civic weight to the scourge of slavery, preferring focusing on its economic and political implications.
Thomas Jefferson, on the other hand, another Founding Father credited to the humanistic tilt of the U.S. Constitution, owned upwards of 600 human beings and even fathered children with a slave, Sally Hemings. Such a huge breach of his otherwise unquestionable integrity lives on.
Unwittingly, he may’ve established precedence to that contradiction, that Americans share a history of liberalism and freedom of expression, that has been largely denied, or severely restricted, to blacks. This separate but equal approach has become now, unequal and barely together.
The past year saw also an increase of xenophobia and hostility towards non-white immigrants, specially Latinos and Muslims, from draconian laws and enforcement by the White House, down to common citizens acting as if their position as American-born and mostly Christian was ever at risk. That’s naturally by design: while directing their dislike to foreigners, they fail to see they’re being played by their dear leader.
It’s in fact startling how come Trump supporters in the lower echelons of society haven’t yet become cognizant to a simple reality: the only major piece of legislation that the president managed to pass was the estimated $3 trillion ($7 trillion over a decade) tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations. And that, ultimately, will cost their own understated reliance on government programs, as well as healthcare and education.
Unlike what they often swear by, it’s their own demographics, not some vilified immigrant group, that uses public assistance the most. Study after study shows that those who come to this country, either running away from certain death, or to have a better life, contribute more taxes and use less the system than under-educated (or ultra rich) Americans born here. That’s not fault of their own; failure to realize it, though, is.
The president’s numerous shortcomings, however, haven’t prevented him from bragging about things he did not do, or taking credit for what others did. His ‘signature project,’ the wall at the Mexican border, is every day a bit less of a reality and more a signal of failure, and the continuous pace of growth of the economy is, in reality, a feat of President Obama’s economic team. But Trump does own the racial hate issue.
He recently doubled down on his despicable statement, a year ago, about that so-called Unite the Right rally, that there were ‘very fine people’ on both sides. And even as he tweeted condemning racism, he did not specifically deplore white supremacist deadly force, and is likely to say something terrible again today. For as long as 30% of Americans support him, he’s also unlikely to retreat from this or other divisive stances.
Speaking of Nazis, celebrated clothing brand Hugo Boss is rarely mentioned in the same sentence as white supremacy. But its founder was a proud Nazi party member and started what’s now a highly profitable suit making business as a manufacturer of German armed force uniforms.
And speaking of Boss, here are excerpts of ‘New No’s,’ by Hong-Kong-born American artist Paul Chan, 2014 Hugo Boss Prize winner: ‘No to racists No to fascists No to taxes funding racists and fascists No mercy for rapists No pity for bigots… No hope without rage No rage without teeth… No anti-Semitic anything No Islamophobic anything No progress without others… No means no No means no.’ Steady now. Cheers WC


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